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Volunteer Monitoring Program

Pictures of volunteers on a map of Florida

The FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) established the Red Tide Volunteer Monitoring Program in 2000 to assist the researchers who study Karenia brevis, the organism that causes Florida red tide. Citizen volunteers expand the spatial coverage of FWRI's monitoring program by collecting water samples from routine collection points and sites reported for suspected harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Because of limited state personnel, boats, and other resources, the program relies on volunteers of all kinds, such as charter boat captains, commercial fishers, divers, and other citizens. Volunteers throughout Florida collect water samples from offshore areas and coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Timely sampling by volunteers allows researchers to provide an early warning of offshore algal blooms and investigate reported events as they occur. At FWRI, researchers examine the samples under a microscope to identify and count HAB organisms. They release their findings in statewide status reports and record them in a historical database.

Current volunteers

We thank all of our volunteers for their participation in the Red Tide Volunteer Monitoring Program, which is vital to the success of HAB research. In appreciation of this commitment and dedication, FWRI honors a Volunteer of the Month.

Active volunteers may access the Volunteer Information Center with a login name and password. The center provides online access to service records, news items, and more to keep volunteers informed and involved in the program.

New volunteers

The Red Tide Volunteer Monitoring Program needs volunteers to collect water samples from all coastal Florida counties, especially the counties highlighted on the map below. For more information, visit Volunteer Opportunities.

Map of Florida showing counties that most need volunteers

Volunteers must be able to collect water samples at least once a month from piers, bridges, or docks alongshore or from locations at least 1 mile offshore. They may be asked to respond to reports of algal blooms and collect water samples for analysis. FWRI pays for sampling supplies and shipping costs.

For more information on the Red Tide Volunteer Monitoring Program, please complete this form.

If you would like to know more about Florida red tide and other HABs, visit Red Tide FAQ or other Red Tide articles.